This post, by Pete Morin, originally appeared on his blog on 10/26/10. It invites comparison between the "fat" in a piece of writing to the excess material goods sometimes accumulated in life.
Over the past week, I have been distracted by the excruciating task of emptying our parents’ house in Florida and preparing it for sale. I’d been on a pretty good writing jag for several days before, but came to a screeching halt the minute I got off the plane in West Palm Beach.
My parents were exuberant consumers of … stuff. When my father went out for something, he came back with three. He once went out to purchase a new pants presser and bought four – and sent one each to his sons. I used mine at most a half-dozen times. He took me hunting on the Eastern Shore of Maryland once years ago. On the Annapolis side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, we stopped at a sporting goods store to pick up hunting licenses and ammunition. We walked out with that, plus two shotguns worth about $1200 apiece. Several years after my mother had her stroke, he thought it would be nice for her to get around, so he bought one of those JAZZY electric wheelchairs. On her first test spin, she ran into the butcher’s block and took a chunk out of the door frame. Ol’ Jazzy sat in the corner of the guest room for the next four years.
In light of this, you can imagine what a daunting task it was for me and my brothers to start opening cabinets and drawers. Four flashlights. Countless “extra” batteries. Owner manuals for appliances long since discarded. Cuisinarts, blenders, knife sharpeners, juicers, salad bowls, Woks. It was like the domestic version of clowns in a Volkswagen.